People in Manipur are attending the annual theatre festival Shumang Leela, which commenced last week and would last till February end.
Not many may know but the art form derives its name from ''Shumang'', which means ''courtyard'' in local parlance.
The festival has traditionally been showcasing several plays based on contemporary themes. Though these performance have popularly been known to have an all-male cast performing in them, of late young women have also started getting roles in the Shumang plays.
Organisers say the month-long festival aims to revive the popular tradition.
"We are organizing this festival because this art form is very popular throughout the state both in the rural and urban areas. The plays will be staged and audience will see the plays and its ideas and messages. The goodwill of the play will be recognized by the people," said Bideshwar Sharma, assistant secretary of Manipur State Kala (fine art) Academy.
At least 29 Shumang Leela troupes are participating in the festival organised by the State''s fine art academy and the All Manipur Shumang Leela Council. Of the total, eighteen are women groups and the rest the male groups.
Participating theatre artistes in this year’s Shumang Leela said the organization of the festival offers a platform to the talented youngsters to explore and nurture their talents.
"I joined this profession because of my love for art. I always think that government job is not only the job and we choose the field that we are passionate about," said Somi Devi, an artiste.
Shumang Leela''s origin goes back to the reign of King Chandrakriti in the 19th century. Today, the theatre form is a distinct facet of the state''s identity.